Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review – Elizabeth Peyton: Aire and Angels at the National Portrait Gallery from 3 October 2019 – 5 January 2020

Exhibition Review – Elizabeth Peyton: Aire and Angels at the National Portrait Gallery from 3 October 2019 – 5 January 2020

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

The National Portrait Gallery presents an exhibition featuring American artist Elizabeth Peyton who is best known for her innovative approach to portrait painting. The exhibition entitled Aire and Angels includes a selection of 40 portraits covering her artistic career and includes subjects like Kurt Cobain, Liam Gallagher, Frida Kahlo, Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth II, David Bowie, Phoebe Philo, David Hockney, Eva-Maria Westbroek and Jonas Kaufmann.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

In addition to the 40 works in the exhibition, Peyton’s work is shown throughout the National Portrait Gallery, with a selection of her portraits dispersed throughout the permanent Collection, juxtaposing Peyton’s paintings with historic portraits from the Tudor period onwards.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Peyton studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City before holding her first solo show of drawings in 1993, the show took place in room 828 of the historic Chelsea Hotel in New York. Since this rather unusual show, her work has gained popularity and her work is often compared to Robert Mapplethorpe, David Hockney and Andy Warhol.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Peyton’s portraits in the exhibition are in a range of media and characterised by figures with androgynous features and have almost a cartoonish nature. Her work as been compared to fashion illustration and there is an element in which her eclectic cast of friends, historical figures and cultural icons are more images rather than real people.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Her portraits of historical figures such as Napoleon and Queen Elizabeth II illustrate how we are conditioned by the times we live in to the type of portraits that are produced. The paintings by dotted around the National Portrait Gallery confirm this with modern and old portraits sitting uncomfortably next to each other.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

Peyton’s style seems more suited to portraying a modern cast like Kurt Cobain, Liam Gallagher or David Bowie, her friends provide plenty of opportunities to celebrate the looks of  the late 20th and early 21st century.

© 2019 Visiting London Guide.com – Photograph by Alan Kean

This interesting free exhibition offers the opportunity to see the work of Elizabeth Peyton, her unique modern style often divides opinions but provides a fascinating contrast with the more formal and traditional portraits in the National Portrait Gallery.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information, visit the National Portrait Gallery website here

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